ARCUS (Shadow of a Rainbow)Memorial for Homosexuals Persecuted During the Nazi Era

ARCUS (Shadow of a Rainbow)

In 2021, after first conducting a comprehensive, community-based, participatory process, the City of Vienna initiated an open call to create a "Memorial to the Men and Women Victimized by the Persecution of Homosexuals in the Nazi Era," which was won by Sarah Ortmeyer and Karl Kolbitz.

Homosexuality between adults was punishable in Austria from 1852 to 1971. After the country’s annexation by the German Reich in March 1938, the number of men and women who were persecuted as homosexuals increased dramatically, and judicial sentences became much more severe. The Nazi authorities criminalized the accused and sent them to prison, psychiatric hospitals, surgery, or concentration camps. In Vienna alone, more than one hundred men were deported to concentration camps; less than one third of them survived. None were officially recognized as victims of the Nazi regime after Austria was liberated.

The sculpture forms the imaginary shadow of a rainbow on a surface in the shape of a swan’s egg. In nature, the rainbow is a complex phenomenon—powerful and fragile at the same time. It appears only under very specific conditions. The rainbow with its six colors is now known as the international symbol of the queer movement from which it emerged in the 1970s. By transforming the colors into different shades of gray, an ambiguous image is created that merges grief with hope. Equal rights and acceptance in society are still not self-evident even today. ARCUS (Shadow of a Rainbow) intends to keep the memory of those people alive who were discriminated against, persecuted, and murdered as homosexuals. “The sculpture represents a remembrance based on solidarity—now and in the future.”, Sarah Ortmeyer and Karl Kolbitz explain.


Resselpark (at the subway entrance Passage Karlsplatz), 1040 Vienna

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ARCUS (Shadow of a Rainbow)Memorial for Homosexuals Persecuted During the Nazi Era

Time Period

Since June 5, 2023

U1 / U4 Karlsplatz

A project in cooperation with WASt (Wiener Antidiskriminierungsstelle für LGBTIQ-Angelegenheiten) and funded by the Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus.

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